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Planetary Science Institute
Tommy Grav's research interests are focused on the study of minor planets in the solar system, particularly the objects heavily influenced by the giant planets, like the Jovian Trojans, Centaurs, Trans-Neptunian Population, irregular satellites and comets. These populations provide important clues and constraints on the formation and migration of the giant planets in the early solar system. These populations also provide potential sources of material that may have remained more or less unaltered since the early times of our solar system.
Dr. Grav got his PhD. (Dr. Scientiarum) in Astronomy from the University in Oslo, Norway, with the thesis "Physical and Dynamical Properties of the Irregular Satellites of the Giant Planets" under supervision of Prof. Kaare Aksnes. The research for his thesis was performed as a pre-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics under the guidance of Dr. Matthew J. Holman. He joined the Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii in 2004 as a Junior Research Scientist and was part of the development team for the Moving Object Processing System (MOPS). In 2007 he joined the Johns Hopkins University as a Associate Research Scientist and joined their efforts as part of the Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium. He is a science team member with the Pan-STARRS 1 project, and the lead of the Pan-STARRS effort on study of the Centaur population.
In 2008 he joined the science team for he NEOWISE project, a solar system augmentation to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a NASA Explorer class mission. He is part of the small development team for the for the WISE Moving Object Processing System (WMOPS), which successfully identified more than 157,000 the moving objects, of which more than 33,000 were new discoveries, in the WISE survey. He is leading the NEOWISE project efforts in deriving diameter and albedo distributions for the Hilda and Jovian Trojan populations, but are also intimately involved with the efforts concerning the Near-Earth Object (NEO), Main Belt, comet and Centaur populations.
Dr. Grav is also a science team member on two of the missions selected for category III as part of the 2010 NASA Discovery Announcement of Opportunity. NEOCam (PI Amy Mainzer, JPL) is a next generation infrared NEO survey, while Whipple (PI Charles Alcock, Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics) is a occultation survey for distant TNOs and Oort cloud objects.
Asteroid 12309 Tommygrav has been named after Dr. Grav.